By now, most pro sports in America are done growing besides the MLS, which is growing at a very fast pace right now. It's time for the fun stuff. Expansion, relocation, and contraction. No pro team sport in America is perfect in team placement and team number. Some are too big. Some are too small. Taking the 5 major leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS), I will do a rundown of what the commishes should do with franchises.
Expansion & Relocation
The NFL needs to expand. I see no reason why not. I don't consider the talent pool watered down. It's just some GMs are idiots and can't draft. That's why seventh rounders become stars. GMs can't draft, and the league becomes top heavy. The NFL needs to do a drawn out expansion so there are 8 new teams, one for each division. Before that, there is one relocation. Bills to Toronto. The Wilson family after Ralph Wilson passes will not want to keep the team. They can sell it now and have the team move to Toronto, where there is already a stadium set up. It would be the easiest move the NFL would have to make in a long time, and it would explore a whole new market.
The Expansion would work like this. Two teams every five years. This would make it so the league wouldn't become anymore top heavy. The first wave of expansion would put teams in Los Angeles & Portland. Both of those teams would join the AFC and NFC West divisions. Next would be Orlando & San Antonio. They would be in the South divisions. Columbus & Louisville would be in the AFC and NFC North. Memphis & Norfolk would get East division teams. If there is no salary cap like expected, scrap this idea because contraction would be rampant. I think this idea puts teams in new markets (Louisville, Portland) and gives some teams close rivals (Memphis v. Tennessee, Columbus v. Cleveland & Cinci).
Pretty quick one here. Some cities just don't support their team. I'd move the Marlins to San Antonio. They haven't started on their new stadium. No matter where the Marlins play, they won't get fan attendance. San Antonio would give them an opportunity to play in front of fans. Also, move the Rays to Indianapolis & the the Royals to Portland. Baseball in Florida was a dream and a dumb one at that. The fans get worn out after a month of spring training. The non-Devil Rays and Marlins were 29th and 30th in attendance last year. The Royals were 28th. Fans in San Antonio, Indianapolis, and Portland would all support their teams, unlike the fans in Florida and Kansas City.
Contraction & Relocation
The NBA is the king of dilluted talent. Flip Murray was cut by the Pistons. He's now a starter for the Pacers. The NBA needs to get rid of their deadweight teams. Stern, cut the Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Hornets, and Atlanta Hawks. The Pacers are already on relocation/contraction watch by David Stern. They draw about 6,000 fans to each game. The attendance they give out is bogus. For the Nets game last week, they had a deal. Buy one club seat, get one free. All of those are season ticket seats. Not anymore though. This team is despised here. It's run horribly and the players are thugs. The Grizzlies have terrible attendance. The Hornets win, but it doesn't bring people to the games. The Hawks are the Hawks. They never get people to come to their games. The relocation is Seattle to Oklahoma City. That's already a done deal.
I've preached about something I like to call the Mason-Dixie rule. Get all NHL teams besides the Lightning out of the Southeastern United States. That's football country, not hockey. They don't care. Canada barely has any teams. Move the Panthers, Predators, Hurricanes, and Thrashers to Winnepeg, Hartford, Hamilton, and Halifax. No one goes to the Southeastern team's games. Winnepeg and Hartford had their teams stolen. Hamilton and Halifax are two big cities in Canada. Halifax is in Nova Scotia, which may be risky because of how isolated it is, but it would work. Also, move the Blues, Coyotes, and Kings to Indianapolis, Calgary, and Hershey. Indianapolis would need a tenant in Conseco, and it would be a good experiment with pro hockey in Indiana. The amatuer hockey team here has broken the league attendance numerous times. Alberta needs another team. The Flames and Oilers have amazing attendance. Hershey has a new stadium, and their minor league hockey team has good attendance.
The MLS already has two expansion teams ready-One in Seattle for 2009 and one in Philly for 2010. They obviously will expand more. St. Louis is going to get the team for 2011. That's almost a given. That makes it 17 teams. The goals of the MLS should be to get rich enough to someday get rid of the salary cap and hopefully promotion and relegation. The first step would be to buy the USL. That would make the transition much easier. To do this, the MLS should expand to 26 teams. Add teams in St. Louis, Atlanta, Miami, Portland, Montreal, Rochester, Indianapolis, Vancouver, Detroit, and Las Vegas for each year so this would end in 2021. Play 3 years with the 26 team league. After the third year, average out the records and demote the bottom 13 teams to the USL 1 and all of the USL 1 teams to USL 2. That would be the start of promotion & relegation in American sports. With this, the new teams would have time to build fanbases. With the salary cap, attendance in small markets would keep up. This would be a slow but steady transition for the MLS to compete with the EPL, Serie A, and La Liga.